The date is August 1914. The British Expeditionary Force is in France and You're in the Royal Field Artillery. You're riding alongside one of the battery's gun limbers on its way to the assigned position on the east side of Mons, Belgium. This begins your journey into the Hell they called World War One. To purchase this historical memoir go to https://createspace.com/3649268

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

1914 September 11-20

Advanced to MONT NOTRE DAME and came into action with French Artillery on hill overlooking River VESLE. From [our spot we could see] wounded coming down, [so] things were warm[1] in front.

Everywhere are signs of the Germans flight, dead men and horses discarded equipment, overturned motors etc.

Everywhere the houses have been looted and the inhabitants seem overjoyed to see us, for they have suffered bitterly at the hands of the enemy.

Sept 13th    (Battle of the Aisne)

[We] marched at dawn [in the] pouring rain, no food, or time to get any.  
Took up position near PAISSY, from there [we marched] to CHIVY VALLEY to meet a German counter attack.
Our infantry suffered heavily, many wounded being near me.
The battery dropped into action, and we found an observing point on a high hill, directly in front. 

In running our wire, old George and I were very lucky to escape the bullets, for we were in full view of the enemy – they all but got us once, a bullet coming between our noses as we were deciding the best way to run our wire. 

We laid down, for they were shelling very heavy all around. This was in the afternoon and the sun was very warm. I couldn’t move, I must have been tired for I actually went to sleep, [until] a Staff-Officer later was talking near by [sic] he must have thought I got bowled over

We made our observing station under the shelter of a small rock, which undoubtedly saved us from getting completely wiped out of existence.

We fired heavy all day, and in the night the Battery moved a little to the right.

I remained on the hill on guard, and posted double sentries with order to shoot anybody, who approached without giving prompt reply to challenge. Towards dawn I lost two sentries and had very uncomfortable time searching for them, for the enemy was again very active.

Sept 14th

[There was] heavy fighting all day. Our little rock proved a haven of refuge, all day we were heavily shelled by ‘coal-boxes .

Major Johnson was killed near by [sic] and Major Madocks slightly wounded.

Some chaps dodged under our rock for shelter and gave us some tobacco; we were smokeless and foodless, my feast being that day a half biscuit, left from emergency ration.
Sept 15th

[Today was the] same as yesterday. The 113th and 46th Batteries on our left were heavily shelled [and had] many casualties, we were more fortunate.

[There was] very hard fighting all day – was by this time [I] quite used to the thunder like clap of the coal-boxes, and other a sundry missiles the Germans were flinging about wholesale.

Their artillery was superior, we had no heavy guns to compare to them, nor anything like their number – and we suffered greatly, for sometimes it was like Hell let loose.
Sept 16th

Heavy scrapping [all day].
 In the afternoon we took up another position on top of MOUNT GOURTONNE, which commanded a good view of the enemies [sic] lines.
 I galloped hard from our little rock and was sickened to see the dead horses lying around.
 As soon as the guns left the old position the enemy peppered it with shell[s], for we had been spotted by aeroplane.
 We took up position at night, [it] was raining hard [and I] was wet through, but had got used to that now. [I] slept under a gun limber [and] would have given anything for something hot to drink, and a good fire.

Sept 17th – October 13th

We have effectively formed our battle line known as the AISNE RIVER.
This long period of fighting all day and almost every night, seems to come to one as a second nature.
 We fire an average of 250 rounds per day – it is really siege warfare.
 Night attacks take place almost nightly [and] I have dug a hole at the back of a limber, as my home.
 All days seem to be alike [except that] some days the fighting is more severe than others. They shell us occasionally and it is never safe to move from one dugout or the shelter of the guns.
 Our wagon line are in the great caves,  which are a wonderful work of nature, but even there we have had quite a few men wounded, and several horses killed.
 At times when they shell us severely, we have had to desert the guns and take refuge in an adjacent cave, which undoubtedly has been the means of saving some lives.
 I slept in this cave one night, and on going to the guns before dawn next morning [I] lost my way and wandered towards the enemy’s lines. When it became light, I was lost and in a valley between us and the Germans. I was confused, and hardly knew what to do.
I could hear rifle bullets whipping uncomfortably near. The ground was full of great holes caused by the German heavy artillery. I knew that when it became light, [I] would be [in] a veritable death trap.
I was hopelessly lost and worse, unarmed, so I decided to take refuge in a shell hole and await throughout the day. [I would wait] until nightfall and try to make my way back. After a while, I decided I would chance it and rather get to our own lines or meet whatever came my way.
 After a deal of wandering and exciting moments, I met an officer who was forward observing, and he directed me to where he thought our guns were.
 I reached them without further mishap, and my off man and the others thought I had got swallowed, for nobody saw me go. Strangely the path I took from the cave, took me within 10 yds of the guns, by which I could see now daylight had well advanced – well! I laughed.

On the 20th
 I managed to get a bit drop of water to wash my face, for it had not seen water for 8 days and I had not shaved for over a fortnight. I looked at myself in somebody’s little pocket mirror – and thought what a picture I was.

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